Members of the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) congregated at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in July to meet with the new Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Noluthando Mayende Sibiya.
SADA was established a the end of 2007 and is an alliance of 13 national organisations. SADAs purpose is to articulate, direct and lead on issues affecting people with disabilities and as a social construct.
In their presentation to the Minister SADA spokesperson, Mr Muzi Nkosi, focused on issues of funding, education and training, accessible transport and employment.
He reminded those present of the Minister’s budget vote speech wherein she indicated her department’s determination to take on employment targets and ensure that every sector meet disability targets as speedily as possible. In the same speech the Minister had also noted that her activities would include co-ordination of the JOBACCESS Strategy. Mr Nkosi suggested that SADA should become a partner in that initiative, working with her department and the Department of Public Service and Administration towards achieving the employment of people with disabilities by 2010.
He also reminded Ms Sibiya of a resolution taken at the National Disability Summit, in July 2008, that the disability sector 1) actively promote the establishment of a Disability Fund to support economic empowerment of people with disabilities 2) mandate the OSDP to engage with government representatives on the establishment of the Disability Fund. He urged the Minister to seriously consider these resolutions as they would assist organisations in programme delivery to the benefit of disabled people.
Speaking of disability programmes Mr Nkosi insisted that monitoring and evaluation, as well as the employment of persons with disabilities, should become a priority.
Last year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) was a non-event and SADA suggested that a taskteam be established to plan and implement the 2009 project. The taskteam should be responsible for proposing a host province, developing the programme (including budget matters) and securing funds.
In her budget vote speech Ms Sibiya committed to honouring all regional and international protocols and commitments including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. SADA offered their collaboration toward successful planning and implementation of the Convention and African Decade Programme and asked the Minister to support their nomination of DPSA’s Dr Siva Moodley to the Committee of Experts.
SADA requested a focused 2010 agenda with regard to key issues, ensuring integration and benefit for disabled people and the creation of a Disability Legacy project out of 2010.
They urged the Minister to ensure that SADA be allowed input before the Disability Policy is finalised and proposed a minimum of three annual standing meetings be arranged to address strategic issues.
Ms Sibiya advised those present that the biggest problem facing the sector is the lack of headway achieved in the 2% public service employment target of persons with disabilities. She admitted that she is still learning about the disability sector and asked them to teach and arm her in the effort of advancing and defending the sector.